How we lost by one vote in South Australia
The South Australian Death with Dignity bill 2016, sponsored by Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge, was defeated at 4.12am on 17 November. The bill initially passed a second reading stage leading to a debate that continued for hours, as it was examined clause by clause and a conscience vote was tied at 23 votes for and against. Speaker Michael Atkinson then used his casting vote to decide against the bill and end the debate. Frances Coombe, the President of the South Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Society (SAVES) said “The many hours of debate were marred by general obstructionism – nitpicking, also fear mongering. There were excellent supporting speeches as well.”
Click for ABC News radio “The World Today” audio 17/11/16 by Caroline Winter and featuring Featuring comments by Kylie Monaghan; Shirley Church, Kylie Monaghan’s mother; Andrew Denton; SA Premier Jay Weatherill; SA Opposition Leader Steven Marshall; and SA independent MP Martin Hamilton-Smith.
The Hansard from the full debate on the bill over two days is highly recommended reading.
Click for Hansard debate Death with Dignity bill 15 Nov 2016 – death-with-dignity-bill-from-HANSARD-11-24920-151116
Click for Hansard debate Death with Dignity bill 16 Nov 2016 – death-with-dignity-bill-from-HANSARD-16.11.16-2
Click for the breakdown by party of the final vote on 17 Nov 2016 – 3rd-Reading-vote_Nov-17-2016
Andrew Denton asked: So why did South Australia’s law not pass? While some MPs did openly oppose it on religious grounds, it would be unfair to suggest that this is what, ultimately, guided the decisions of others. However, it is fair to suggest that many MPs approached this debate heavily influenced by a carefully orchestrated campaign of fear and misinformation, propagated by religious groups and also some sections of the medical community. Click to read Andrew Denton’s opinion piece as a pdf: Granting-terminally-ill-right-to-die-with-dignity-is-good-policy the-weekend-australian-191116
At worst, only 25 per cent of South Australians oppose voluntary euthanasia – yet 51 per cent of the state’s MPs voted it down. And this was not to move the Bill into law but simply to take it to a committee stage for review and fine-tuning. So why is this continual parliamentary rejection of VE so “dishonest”, and what is the common denominator that puts these MPs so staggeringly out of step with public opinion? Click for full opinion piece by Brian Morris